The Corner

National Security & Defense

Krauthammer’s Take: It’s Good to Have a Defense Secretary Known As ‘Mad Dog’

Charles Krauthammer said that Donald Trump’s looking to form a connection with Mitt Romney before making him secretary of state, and he also praised the James Mattis pick because he would be intimidating to hostile actors:

We’ve never quite seen anything like this, sort of the public back and forth — the president deciding in a very open way through all kinds of theatrical moments like the dinner the other night. I don’t think there is any way to tell; this is going to be a personal decision. I think Trump is looking to see if he can form a personal connection with Romney. But could I say just one thing about Mattis?

It’s good to have a military man. It’s also good to have a military man who is known as “Mad Dog.” Because let’s say you’re trying to send a message to obstreperous Iranians, who have been harassing our boats. I think you want to send a message that says something like, “If you don’t stop within 48 hours, I may have to turn the matter over to Mad Dog.” Translated afterwards into Persian. I think that can be quite useful. Nixon used the crazy factor to great effect. The Russians were always afraid they could push a button and he would go over the top, as when he went to nuclear alert during the Arab–Israeli War of ‘73. Good to have a mad dog on your side, especially one with his strategic knowledge and range and tactical, operational experience. That’s very rare and would serve extremely useful in the cabinet.

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